Join ePHOTOzine, the friendliest photography community.
Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more for free!
This classic wide angle prime from Canon provides a wide angle field of view, fast, silent focusing and a bright f/1.8 maximum aperture. With this lens costing around £380, could it be the perfect budget solution for hand held low light shooting?
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III used for testing.
An Ultrasonic motor powers the autofocus, and focusing is fast as a result. Focusing accuracy can be a little hit and miss, especially at wide apertures, so extra care may need to be taken to ensure the image is properly focused. Manual focus adjustments can be made at any time, whether the lens is set to AF or MF. The focusing ring has a slightly gritty feel to it and it tend to tighten up as it is moved towards either end of the focusing range. This can make applying fine adjustments a little tricky, especially if attempting to focus on something near the lens' closest focusing distance, which is 25cm.
Focusing is performed internally, which means the 58mm filter ring does not rotate. This is ideal for use with graduated and polarising filters.
Stopping down does improve quality across the frame as the effect of spherical aberrations on the image diminish. A big jump in sharpness level in the centre of the frame can be seen with the lens stopped down to f/2.8, but the clarity towards the edges of the frame doesn't reach good levels until the lens is stopped down beyond f/8.
Peak sharpness across the frame is achieved at f/11, where clarity in the centre is excellent, and very good towards the edges of the frame.
Resolution at 28mm
How to read our charts
The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.
Chromatic aberrations can be an issue at wide apertures also. At f/2, fringing exceeds one pixel width, which may cause issues with images that have high contrast edges towards the periphery.
Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is quite pronounced, as you might expect from a wide aperture lens like this. At f/1.8 the corners are 2.12 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination is achieved when stopped down to f/5.6 or beyond.
Chromatic aberration at 28mm
How to read our chartsChromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.
Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.
For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III using Imatest.
Only a mild level of 1.49% barrel distortion is present and the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, which should make it relatively straightforward to correct in image editing software afterwards. Although level of distortion present is only mild, it's still probably slightly more than you might expect from a prime lens like this.
No lens hood is supplied as standard by Canon with the 28mm f/1.8. Unfortunately flare and loss of contrast can be be issues when shooting into the light, or with a light source, such as the sun in the frame.
Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM Sample Photos
Hazy or dreamy can both be used to describe how images taken at f/1.8 look | 1/800 sec | f/1.8 | 28.0 mm | ISO 400
However, when the lens is stopped down, it is capable of producing decent sharpness | 1/160 sec | f/8.0 | 28.0 mm | ISO 100
Closest focus is 25cm | 1/200 sec | f/2.8 | 28.0 mm | ISO 100
Sharpness in the centre increases at f/2.8, but the clarity towards the edges of the frame still falls behind somewhat | 1/125 sec | f/2.8 | 28.0 mm | ISO 400
1/125 sec | f/3.5 | 28.0 mm | ISO 400
1/160 sec | f/14.0 | 28.0 mm | ISO 100
1/25 sec | f/8.0 | 28.0 mm | ISO 100
1/80 sec | f/5.6 | 28.0 mm | ISO 200
Value for MoneyWith the poor performance at fast apertures considered, it is difficult to see the value this lens brings to the table. Most f/2.8 zooms will perform better across the frame than this lens at f/2.8, even though sharpness in the centre is excellent.
An alternative is available from Sigma. Their 28mm f/1.8 costs around £345 and I would hope that it performs better than Canon's offering at fast apertures.
With the lens stopped down, it can yield pleasing results, but then if this lens can only be used stopped down, it may be worth saving your £380 to put towards a high quality zoom in the same range, or any other alternative, for that matter.
Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM ProsGood build quality
Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM ConsPoor optical performance at fast apertures
CA at fast apertures
Price versus performance doesn't add up
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM Specifications
|Angle of View||0° - 65°|
|35mm equivalent||No Data|
|Internal focusing||No Data|
|Box Contents||No Data|